boy howdy

Creem was a monthly rock ‘n’ roll publication first published in March 1969 by Barry Kramer and founding editor Tony Reay. It suspended production in 1989 but received a short-lived renaissance in the early 1990s as a glossy tabloid.

Lester Bangs, often cited as ‘America’s Greatest Rock Critic,’ became editor in 1971. The term ‘punk rock’ was said to have been coined by the magazine in 1971, and the term ‘heavy metal’ was also first used in its pages.

Creem was based in Detroit, Michigan, and later the Detroit suburb of Birmingham. This geographical separation from the entertainment industry in the United States, then focused primarily in Hollywood and New York City, along with the British upbringing of original editor Reay, resulted in a certain irreverence, a deprecatory and humorous tone that permeated the magazine throughout its existence. The magazine became famous for its comical photo captions, which poked fun at rock stars, the industry, and even the magazine itself.

Its location also meant it was among the first national publications with in-depth coverage of many popular Detroit-area artists, such as Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, and Parliament-Funkadelic, as well as other Midwestern acts such as  Cheap Trick.

Creem picked up on punk rock (which many claim the magazine, and especially Bangs, helped to conceptualize if not invent) and New Wave movements early on. Creem gave massive exposure to artists like Lou Reed, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Blondie and The New York Dolls years before the mainstream press. In the ’80s, it also led the pack on coverage of such upcoming rock icons as R.E.M., The Replacements, The Smiths and The Cure, among numerous others. It was also among the first to sing the praises of metal acts like Motörhead, Kiss, Judas Priest, and Van Halen.

The CREEM logo was designed by Bob Wilson, who also wrote a regular comic strip, ‘Mike and Barney.’ The ‘Mr. Dreamwhip’ and ‘Boy Howdy’ icons were designed by underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, reportedly for $50. Both appeared on the cover of the second issue as a black and white drawing titled Detroit 1969. For the December 1971 issue, Wilson colored the drawing, which appeared in every following issue in a Creem’s Profiles, a parody of the then-popular Dewar’s Profiles, featuring musicians and bands holding cans of ‘Boy Howdy’ beer.


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